AWW Gen 3 Week Summary

Australian Women Writers Gen 3 Week 12-18 Jan. 2020

Grace Cossington Smith
Artist: Grace Cossington Smith

Another successful ‘Gen’ week negotiated – thank you all, readers and writers – without the benefit of holidays this time, as I drove from Perth to Albany (WA) to Goulburn (NSW), picked up my new trailer somewhere in the wilds north of Windsor, outside Sydney, ran empty to Melbourne, had a day off to visit mum, loaded, and here I am in Adelaide, Sunday night, ready to top up in the morning and head home.

Each time we do a Gen week, I find surprising both the gems we discover and the major works we fail to get to. My list of the major works of the Australian Women Writers Gen 3 period, from the end of WWI to the end of the 1950s, would include –

Henry Handel Richardson, The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney (trilogy)
Katharine Susannah Prichard, Coonardoo and Working Bullocks
Christina Stead, Seven Poor Men of Sydney and For Love Alone
M Barnard Eldershaw, A House is Built
Eleanor Dark, Prelude to Christopher and The Timeless Land
Miles Franklin, All That Swagger
Kylie Tennant, Ride On Stranger and The Battlers
Cusack & James, Come in Spinner
Eve Langley, The Pea Pickers

I think that’s close to chronological order. Anyway that’s a pretty powerful list and we didn’t get to any of them. Yet I’m happy with the books we did cover and I think between us we chose books that illustrated the principal themes of Gen 3 – Modernism, Social Realism (Socialist Realism for Communists) and Pioneering. And the hidden gems? Well definitely Zora Cross and Dorothy Cottrell.

So, in the lead up to and over the course of AWW Gen 3 Week we saw the following reviews/posts –

Eleanor Dark, The Little Company, ANZLitLovers
Ruth Park, A Fence Around the Cuckoo, Travellin Penguin
Dora Birtles, The Overlanders, Luvvie’s Musings
Drusilla Modgeska, Exiles at Home, wadh
Cathy Perkins, The Shelf Life of Zora Cross (biog.), The Resident Judge
Monday Musings on Christina Stead, Whispering Gums
Dorothy Hewett, In Midland Where the Trains Go By (poem), Brona’s Books
Jean Devanny, Sugar Heaven, ANZLitLovers
Myrtle Rose White, No Roads Go By, wadh
Mena Calthorpe, The Dyehouse, Brona’s Books
Dorothy Cottrell, The Mysterious Box, Jessica White
Park & Niland, The Drums Go Bang, Whispering Gums
Monday Musings on Christina Stead (2), Whispering Gums

There are more reviews in the AWW Gen 3 page, as many as I can find that we’ve done over the years, including most of the ‘major’ works above, plus ‘Related Posts’ particularly the many posts Whispering Gums has done on 1930s writers, plus all the major literary prize winners (that I can dig up) for the period.

Christina Stead and Miles Franklin have pages of their own – Franklin (here) and Stead on ANZ LitLovers (here). Let me know if you do an AWW Gen 3 (or 2 or 1) review, or have done and I’ve missed it, and I will add it to the appropriate page. I’m currently working on a big post(s) on Daisy Bates and her The Passing of the Aborigines but I might let it rest for a while before I put it up. And then there’s Ernestine Hill, more Stead, more Eleanor Dark, Dorothy Cottrell’s The Singing Gold to find, so much to do!

At this stage I’m thinking we’ll do more Gen 3 next year and I’d like to take the time to look a little closer at the boundary between Gen 3 and Gen 4. I’ve tended to conflate Gen 4 and Baby Boomers, but just as much of ‘our’ music is by people ten years older than us, eg. The Beatles, so, I think, many of those writers we regard as ‘oldies’ like Tom Keneally, David Ireland and Thea Astley probably properly belong by style and subject matter in Gen 4.

Thank you all again, and it’s back to ‘normal’ reading for a while, well until a challenge catches my eye or ANZ LitLovers Indigenous Writing Week sneaks up on us again.

29 thoughts on “AWW Gen 3 Week Summary

  1. Excellent Bill, what a great round-up. I caught most of these posts. I do enjoy this week. As well as tonight’s second Stead post, already in the bag, I hope to have another review up in the middle of the week. But we’re in Thredbo now and it depends on how active we are! With more rain forecast I might get more reading time.

    Glad you got your trailer.


  2. Great round-up. I have to catch up with reviews, they are sitting in my inbox. I’m not sure I’ll manage to read them all.

    Sorry I couldn’t participate this year. I’ll try to catch on next year.


  3. I’m sorry I didn’t read more, my eyes, always troublesome anyway, have been affected by the smoke and my reading has suffered because I can’t settle to it for more than about an hour.
    I have copies of Coonardoo and A House is Built and will let you know when I’ve reviewed them.
    But what is really pleasing to see is that you have enticed more participants this year, and that’s a very good thing. I’d be very happy if that many readers participated in ILW!


    • I’ve been really tired mid afternoon and I think that was the smoke too. Pt Augusta now and it’s been fine rain all morning, a relief!

      You and I and Sue knock out a couple each and the week’s nearly done. Brona did two too. Jess is always there, and RJ. Travellin Penguin stepped up when she was needed and filled in for MST who won’t be treated so leniently next year, so yes there’s a nice spread.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear about your eyes Lisa. Allergy? My Gums’ eyes have been playing up for a few months now and the smoke hasn’t helped. I have intermittent allergy/eczema related eye issues and when they play up it’s so miserable. Strangely the smoke doesn’t seem to have been a problem for me – not the way cold dry winters are. Anyhow, I know how awful it is, and hope your eyes are settling down.


      • I’m seeing the eye specialist soon because of this and that, and most likely will need cataract surgery soon, but the problem that’s exacerbated by the smoke is Dry Eye, i.e. I don’t make enough tears which makes the surface of the eye vulnerable to all sorts of problems. LOL And I always thought I didn’t cry (even at funerals) because I was heart-hearted…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, you’re not hard-hearted! You don’t have to cry to show heart. Dry eye is what Mr Gums is suffering from, and it’s been a struggle finding solutions. Mine is blepharitis for which I seem to have found a way to manage.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m thrilled to know that gen 3 will feature again next year. I have so many gen 3 (2 and 1) books on my tbr pile and I’m determined to read more of them. Your posts inspire me to do so. For you, The Pea-Pickers is my next classic AWW. And I agree with Sue, nothing preachy going on here.

    I’ve been really tired every afternoon this entire summer. I thought it was just work and perimenopause, but glad to add the smoke to my list of things to blame! Whatever it is, it has really affected my reading, blogging and walking time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great Brona. I hope you love The Pea Pickers as much as I do. I’m out in the bush tonight, well desert really, clean air and I feel much better. If all the smoke over the east coast cities doesn’t galvanize the voters, galvanize this do nothing government, then … it’s all over, isn’t it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh well Nathan you’re a busy parent and author, there’s always next year, and my Gen 3 page has lots of links to posts on KSP you’ve already done. Two questions: Do you think Working Bullocks was the closest she got to Socialist Realism; and does she say (or demonstrate) that Modernism had any effect on her writing?


      • I would say the goldfields trilogy are the most Socialist Realist part of her work. Working Bullocks was too early – 1926 – and seems more influenced by DH Lawrence and Romanticism to me.
        As for Modernism, interesting question. She was reading Woolf at one point, and I think Joyce (can’t remember for sure), and produced one stream-of-consciousness story “The Curse” in the 1920s. I think Intimate Strangers shows the influence of modernism – very interior.
        She had turned so strongly against modernism by 1944, she thought the Angry Penguins hoax was hilarious, exposing the decadence and vapidity of the modernists. Never mind the editor of Angry Penguins was a communist and the hoaxers were conservatives!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so sorry for not reviewing Prelude to Christopher, which I coincidently read during your Gen 3 week (only sporadically checking WordPress these days). Suffice to say I really enjoyed it, not perfect by any stretch, but very accessible and memorable. It was enough to convince me to read more of Eleanor Dark. I think I have Timeless Land on my shelves. Maybe next year…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you checked back in. I’ve never logged into WordPress, I just create one post after another and rely on email to tell me what to read. Eleanor Dark is a very good writer. I’m meaning to (re-)read The Timeless Land trilogy, but I think the writing is different from her other novels.


    • The feeling I have is that, in general, returned soldiers after WWI were strongly anti war. The whole ANZAC legend thing was the invention of particularly Keith Murdoch, CEW Bean and politicians back home. I guess if I had a concern it was that the author would buy into the legend, not her husband.


      • Well no, then, on the basis of this, I’d say not, Bill. There is a sense of resourcefulness, humour, mateship, and probably other ANZAC qualities like anti-authority, but there’s a light satiric tone that undermines this as well.


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